Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finding the Gaps in Your Marketing Content

Do you have all of the content you need to effectively market and sell your products or services? If you're like most companies I work with, there are probably a few "gaps" in your content. It's important to close these gaps as quickly as possible, but first you need to know what specific types of content are missing from your inventory.

To find the gaps in your marketing content, you need to perform a content audit, and the basic process for an audit is shown in the following diagram.

If you'd like to learn more about creating buyer personas, defining buying process stages, and identifying buying stage questions, please take a look at our white paper titled Two Powerful Ways to Make Your Marketing More Relevant. (To get a copy of this white paper, just send me an e-mail at ddodd(at)pointbalance(dot)com.) In this post, I want to focus on mapping existing content assets to buyer personas and buying stages.

The purpose of content mapping is to link each of your content assets (white papers, case studies, etc.) to one or more buyer personas and one or more buying stages. The mapping process is easier if done in two stages.

Map Assets to Buyer Personas

The first step is to create a buyer persona map that links your existing content assets to buyer personas. When mapping assets to buyer personas, the basic question you ask is whether an asset contains content that will appeal to a given buyer persona. Does the asset address issues that will be relevant to the buyer persona? Is the asset targeted for the persona's job title and industry? Does the asset focus on the specific problems and challenges facing the buyer persona?

I use a simple spreadsheet to create a buyer persona map. The first column of the buyer persona map contains the title or a brief description of the asset, and the second column is used to identify the asset type (a white paper, a case study, etc.). An additional column is used for each buyer persona. Each content asset is entered on a separate row in the map. The example below shows what the beginning of a buyer persona map would look like. In this example, no content has been mapped to Buyer Persona 4. If you complete your buyer persona map and have any buyer personas with no assigned assets, you obviously have a major gap in your content.

Map Assets to Buying Stages

The second step in the process is to create a buying stage map that links your content assets to specific stages in the buying process. When mapping assets to buying stages, the basic test is whether the asset contains content that answers the major questions that a potential buyer will have at that stage of the buying process.

In this step, you'll need to create a buying stage map for each buyer persona. Once again, I use a simple spreadsheet to create the buying stage maps, and a highly simplified version of a buying stage map is shown below. The first two columns in the buying stage map are the same as those used in the buyer persona map. In the buying stage map, an additional column is used for each stage of the buying process. To create a buying stage map, first select a buyer persona, then go to your buyer persona map and identify all of the assets that you have mapped to your selected persona. List those assets in your buying stage map and link each of those assets to one or more buying stages. Repeat this process until you have a buying stage map for each of your buyer personas.

When you complete this mapping process, you'll have a clear picture of where the gaps in your marketing content are and what kinds of content you need to fill the holes.


  1. Great post David. You nailed the asset mapping topic.

    I would only add that it's critical for marketers to interview buyers to ensure that their "asset focuses on the key problems and challenges facing their buyer persona." Too many personas are built with inadequate insight into this question.

    If the maps are built on personas that are based on demographics such as job titles and industry, the map won't get us where we want to go.

    I interview buyers regularly, and rarely hear that they found the answer to their question in marketing materials. Marketers who want to build relevant content need a lot more intimacy with their buyers.

  2. Adele,

    Thanks very much for your comment. I am a big fan of your work on buyer personas and a regular reader of your blog. I absolutely agree with your point that personas built only on demographics like job titles and industry are far from adequate.

  3. Nice job David. If you;'re like me, you follow the best practices from Ardeth Albee and other content thought leaders. Am planning a post like this in the future.